The Year of Women in Latin America

The feminist anthem ‘The Rapist Is You’ has spread to several countries in Latin America and has also crossed the Atlantic. (Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, Havana, 22 December 2019 – Analysts will give other names to the year 2019, now about to end. Perhaps they will label it as a time of great social outbursts in Latin America or as the 12 months of an economic stagnation that has affected many of the nations that make up the continent. But, in reality, this has been the year of women in this region, a moment of demands to end the macho violence that both affects us and limits us as societies.

Shortly before the year began, the winds of the MeToo movement began to blow over this part of the world. By April, the Mexican intellectual and artistic world was shaken by allegations of sexual abuse and assault that many women made public against musicians, writers, journalists and academics. In the nation where seven out of ten women have suffered some kind of sexist violence, their voices are demanding respect.

The most recent statement by the writer Elena Poniatowska, who states that she was sexually abused more than six decades ago by her literary mentor Juan José Arreola, will contribute – without a doubt – to make visible and raise awareness about a phenomenon that continues to affect a good share of Mexican women. Something similar to what is happening in Chile, where the feminist anthem was born, The Rapist is You, which has spread to several countries in the region and has crossed the Atlantic to be repeated by Spanish, French and Turkish women, among others.

Even in Cuba, controlled by a regime for which feminism has always been an uncomfortable and censurable movement, this year the first scandals broke out that pointed to men with public profiles as perpetrators of abuses against women. Last June, singer Dianelys Alfonso Cartaya, known as La Diosa, related on social networks that she had been the victim of abuse and sexist violence by one of the Island’s flagship musicians, José Luis Cortés, known as El Tosco. As in other cases, the victim received support but also insults and questions about the veracity of her story. The #DiosaYoSíTeCreo (Diosa Yes I Do Believe You) hashtag was shared by thousands of Internet users on Twitter and Facebook.

Although it seems much has been achieved, this is only the beginning of a movement that has contributed to shedding light on the harassment and aggressions suffered by women in this part of the world. We are barely experiencing the beginning of something that promises to extend for a long time, help shake consciences and bring the occasional abuser in his uniform, robe, cassock or tie into court.

The initiatives, complaints and demands that have begun to be heard publicly can become, in the coming months, a true political, social and legal earthquake. A phenomenon that will force us to rethink what needs to be done to end sexist impunity in Latin American streets, homes, institutions and governments. If this 2019 had a woman’s face, 2020 will be like the womb in which a new order is brewing.


Editor’s note: This text was initially published on the Deutsche Welle page for Latin America.

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